I have a thing for pretty much any kind of Asian food. Lately I've been getting into Asian cooking a lot more, cooking authentic Chinese dishes, and broadening my horizons in other Asian cuisines as well. Indian food is perhaps my all-time favorite. I could eat it morning, noon, and night without tiring. I have cooked a handful of Indian dishes in my kitchen over the years, be it butter chicken and samosas, or dal makhani.
I just love all the wonderful spices used in Indian cooking. Their placement is inconsequential. I'm always looking to experiment more, and some extra shrimp in the freezer recently proved to be the perfect excuse to test out a new recipe. I had seen a recipe using tamarind in a shrimp curry and was really inspired because I love tamarind and thought it's tart flavor would actually compliment shrimp really well.
I didn't follow that recipe, but created my own using various spices I had in my pantry, and just elaborated the dish as I went along. The result was fantastic. The juicy pink shrimp is cloaked in a slightly sweet and tart sauce that is nicely spiced with a combination of mustard seeds, Madras curry powder, garam masala, and red chili powder along with the standard garlic and ginger.
This dish was really easy to make, and I would definitely make it again with a surplus of shrimp. I served this delicious curry with sides of basmati rice and chana dal. The rice helped soak up some of the tasty sauce from the shrimp, and the dal was a wonderfully spiced favorite that I've now made at least 3 times in my kitchen. It's always a winner.
Shrimp Curry with Tamarind
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee, or as needed
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder (I use the blend from Williams-Sonoma)
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Indian red chili powder
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled (leaving tail in tact) and deveined
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste
Heat the oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, and when they start to sizzle and pop, add the onion, curry powder, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir and cook over medium heat until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for another couple minutes until fragrant. Add the shrimp and toss to coat with the onions and spices. Add the water and tamarind paste. The water will help dilute the paste into a sauce. Season with salt. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Serve immediately.